Betting for fun or to trying to beat the book?
The main rule of successful sports betting says one should never side with the squares. People usually decide the side on which they want to wager €“ in any sports competition €“ based on a combination of personal preferences and handicapping. If you’re a fan of a team, you can bet on that team all the time if you so wish, there’s no one to tell you otherwise, especially if you’re having fun doing it. Just don’t expect to make any money this way. Make sure you understand your own goals: if you’re doing it for fun, that’s OK too, only in that case you have to be prepared to pay a fee for the entertainment as you’ll be betting with negative EV pretty much all the time.
Look at a Line in terms of value
If you view sports betting as a way to make money though, you need to change the way you look at the whole picture, and instead of going after personal preferences, you should always go for value. Establishing long term positive expected value in sports betting is not easy by any means. First of all, you need to manage your bankroll flawlessly. You also need to be a great reverse handicapper. Plain old handicapping gives you only one side of the picture: through it, you can estimate the odds from the player’s perspective. Reverse handicapping lets you see the other side of the coin too. Through reverse handicapping, you get to understand the odds from the bookmaker’s perspective, and you’ll be able to tweak the results yielded by your straight handicapping, with the bookmaker’s side of the story in mind. For that of course, you need to understand how the bookmaker works and why he does what he does.
The Bookmaker Point of View
The bookie’s foremost goal is always to balance every match-up. If he manages to balance a match-up perfectly, the bookmaker will get the exact same number of bettors on both sides of a bet. This way, he just pays the winners from the losers’ money and retains the vig, which is his profit. Of course, this is just a theoretical situation. A perfect balance can’t really be attained, but something close-enough to it will do fine for the bookie too. Sometimes however, the lines set by the bookie’s handicappers don’t quite work out the way they should. Squares may decide for whatever reason to flock to one side of the match-up. Such is the case of a favorite playing a relatively capable underdog on the road in football €“ in which case the squares tend to bet on the favorite despite the odds given by the bookie. In such cases, the bookie has to move his lines off the set values to make the other side of the match-up more attractive. That’s when the hidden value surfaces. As the bookie is forced to artificially induce value which shouldn’t be there, the sharps swing into action and place their bets at just the right time. That of course, would not be possible without reverse handicapping.